Salvini's call for snap election faces more resistance in Italy

Photo: EPA Italian deputy premier and 5-Star leader Luigi Di Maio (C) arrives at the Chamber of Deputies to analyze with his MPs the political situation, Rome, 12 August.

Italian Deputy PM and League chief Matteo Salvini’s call for snap elections faced mounting resistance on Sunday, with both his former 5-Star ally and the center-left opposition seeking to put the brakes on, news wires reported.

The far-right League on Friday filed a no-confidence motion to bring down the government it formed with the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement amid Salvini's hopes to win snap elections and to become PM. But that plan is facing criticism from other parties, whose support the League would need in parliament for the no-confidence vote to succeed.

Former Democratic Party leader Matteo Renzi, who still wields strong influence over his center-left party, said on Sunday going back to the polls just when the government is due to start preparations for the 2020 budget would be “crazy”. In an interview with Corriere della Sera daily, Renzi called instead for a caretaker government to be installed with the support of parties across the political spectrum. Such an administration’s first task would be to find some €23bn to avert a rise in sales tax which will otherwise kick in from January. He also backed 5-Star’s call for legislation cutting the number of MPs and senators in Italy by 345 to be passed before new elections. There are currently 630 members of the lower house and 315 senators. The draft bill cutting the number of lawmakers is at an advanced stage, with a final vote due next month, but such a measure would have to follow a lengthy constitutional procedure that would make new elections unlikely for another year.

The 5-Star leader Luigi Di Maio also said that triggering a government crisis now was “foolish and dangerous. He accused on Monday Salvini of betraying the Italian people by pulling the plug on the government."Salvini did not betray the M5S or (Premier Giuseppe) Conte," sources quoted Di Maio as telling a meeting of M5S lawmakers."He betrayed the millions of Italian people who he had told for 14 months that he wasn't looking at the opinion polls. 5-Star has more parliamentary seats than the League, but Salvini’s party now has twice as much voter support, according to opinion polls.

Despite the summer recess, Salvini has summoned all League lawmakers back to Rome on Monday and is pushing for a vote on the no-confidence motion against the government this week, while opposition parties would prefer to wait until 19-20 August. The decision lies with the heads of political groups in the Senate, who will meet on Monday to set a timetable.

Only President Sergio Mattarella has the power to dissolve parliament and he may be unwilling to do so ahead of preparatory work in September for the 2020 budget, which must be presented to parliament and the European Commission the following month. He could try instead to form a new government from the existing legislature before resorting to an election.




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